Homeland in the 18th Century

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Welcome to the Robeson County Historical Map

This feature allows the user to view Robeson County and the surrounding area of Land properties owned by mostly Indian and some non-Indian people from 1750 to late 1780′s.  The goal of this map is to accurately pinpoint the geographical distribution of Indian people from pre-Revolutionary era to present day.  It is a work in progress and we hope the data keeps on accumulating over the next several years as other groups tackle this project! Notice that this map includes two geo-referenced maps of Robeson county in 1797 and 1884 for historical context.


  • This map was assembled using the software ArcGIS 10.
  • Half of the project consisted of getting familiar with using the software and we took several workshops with Professor Rebecca Dobbs to hone our technical skills (this couldn’t have been possible without her assistance).
  • The latter half consisted of integrating the data that was given to us by Professor Malinda Lowery.  She had the property deeds with dates of Indians and non-Indians of the latter half of 18th century.
  • However, it would be unhelpful if we just had a map of contemporary Robeson County and the surrounding area.  In over 200 years, a lot of geography could have changed.  Roads were built, flood lines changed, swampy areas are now suburban homes, etc. That’s where the georeferenced maps come in!
  • With the georeferenced map overlayed on top of contemporary map, we can pinpoint as accurately where the properties were located.  It gives us historical context!
  • As more and more property deed/acreage data can be compiled, the closer we are of accurately depicting as well as historically analyzing the spatial distribution of Indian people in Robeson County!

Some stuff you should know about the map:

  • The map is not one file with everything neatly placed.  It requires many different layers overlapped on each other.  Separate files of roads, rivers and streams, bodies of water, modern schools and towns, and etc. have to all be inserted into a map file.  While compiling different layer files require technical skills and time, it is actually very useful for analysis part.
  • Each geographical items that I listed above is called a “layer”.  When we insert all the layers, we get the map that is loaded on the screen when you first click on the tab.  However, you have the option of clicking off the layer.  For example, you realize that having rivers and stream on top of roads is just too much to visualize on a map so you want to reference the data with respect to only roads.  You can do this by just clicking on the eye beside rivers and streams and now you get a map without rivers and streams littered all over Robeson county.  You can show or hide the layer on the map by just clicking on the eye next to each layer.  This way, you can analyze the data set with any combination of geographical layers.
  • With this information in mind,we hope you can interactively analyze the land properties in geographical context as well as historical context.  You can even compare the historical maps of 1797 and 1884 with today’s map by hiding or showing one or both maps and see what kind of changes have occurred over the past two centuries.
  • One minor problem, though :( with the current limitations of the ArcGIS 10 software, the boundaries of each property cannot be depicted accurately.  We can only show how big the property was in terms of acreage and it is represented by the circle.  The bigger the circle, the larger the property.  We hope that in the future with updated software, this can be rectified but until then, this is as accurate as we can get.


  • Use the tabs on the left to turn on and off the layers you wish to view.
  • Use the + and – signs to zoom in and out.
  • Move by clicking the map and dragging with the hand.
  • To view details of a specific layer, click on the item of interest.

Important things to note:

  • Most land deeds were located in close proximity to bodies of water.
  • As you turn modern roads on, notice how many state highways are located along major footpaths from prior centuries.
  • Many of the earliest land deeds on record were located close to modern day Lumberton, and expanded to the Northwest toward Pembroke as time progressed.
  • The Southeast corner of the area is extremely close to sea level, and prone to flooding (This could explain the Northwestern expansion).


Thank you, first and foremost, to Dr. Rebecca Dobbs for teaching us this software and helping make our vision a reality!

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